Introducing Index by Elysium Health
Has science really discovered a way to determine your “true age” based on information contained in your DNA? Elysium Health says it has used new technology to develop a test that will do just that. The company claims that by examining a specific group of chemical compounds found in DNA known as the epigenome, true age can be determined, and that information can be used to improve habits such as diet and exercise, sleep cycles, even mental health needs.
All of these determinations are made using the Elysium Health Test, an index test that is taken in the comfort of your own home. The test is available for order from the company's website. The test costs $500, which includes ordering the kit and having the results determined. A saliva sample must be submitted along with the test kit for proper genetic coding and matching.
Eric Marcotulli is the CEO of Elysium Health. He is 34 years old, follows a strict exercise routine, practices intermittent fasting and eats a healthy diet. At first glance he appears to be in his late 20s. A closer look reveals a touch of silvery-gray hair at the temples and in his sideburns, revealing that he is just a bit older and that looks can be very deceiving. His actual chronological age is 34. However, based on the company's new test to determine biological age, Marcotulli more closely fits the cellular profile of a 30- year-old male. These test results provide a far more accurate overall indication of Marcotulli’s physiological health, and his body’s performance can be determined by chronological age.
The Elysium Health Test, or Index Test, can be preordered via the company's website for shipment in December. The at-home convenience of the test is made possible with the help of world-renowned genetic sequencing company Illumina. Elysium Health purchased unique, cutting-edge technology from Illumina in order to bring this innovative testing to customers right in their own homes. It is Elysium’s hope that those who take the test will be able to make improvements in a number of areas in their lives which will improve overall health in a number of ways. These ways include becoming more physically fit, getting more restful sleep, improving cardiovascular health, an increasing mental clarity, concentration, and retention. The company consider this to be the first step toward even more beneficial offerings to come. They are already looking at ways to further refine the epigenetic analysis of this testing format in order to provide more detailed genetic information, which can lead to even greater improvements to health. Elysium Health has a vision that includes helping its customers to not only improve their health but to increase their longevity.
The Elysium Health Test has not been subjected to long-term study at the moment as the company is first taking all precautions and following all in-place protocol involving the submission and testing of the required saliva samples. At present, test subjects are advised that they must have nothing whatsoever to eat or drink for at least 1/2 hour prior to placing a sample of their saliva into the small tube that is provided in the test kit. The test has not been approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), but it is not required to be as it is not being used to diagnose or assess diseases. These points mean that anyone using this test is essentially doing so with the understanding that, while the scientific data and statistical research is present to show promise and ignite intense interest among seasoned researchers, there are no long-term study reports at this time.
Elysium Index vs. Competitors
The wild popularity of genetic profiling companies like ancestry.com encouraged Elysium to delve further into the science of epigenetics. The companies that provide customers with basic information related to their genetic profiles deal with information derived from genes. This information does not change throughout a person’s lifetime. However, epigenetics refers to the way(s) in which those genes are expressed. This information is not constant. It changes throughout an individual’s lifetime based on a number of factors: physical health, stress levels, alcohol intake, drug use, smoking, etc. Elysium studied all of these points and how they relate to one another and within the aging process, and from there developed a lucrative way to help people use their genetic and epigenetic information to make improvements to their health and quality of life. They are hopeful that in the coming years they will develop this technology to also increase the longevity of customers’ lives as they study the epigenetic processes as they relate to aging.
The company has certainly hit on a money maker: since epigenetics are an evolving factor and genetics are permanently set, Elysium can sell kits to its customers throughout their lifetimes. Companies that deal in providing simple, basic genetic information cannot, as a customer would need only one report of this finite set of facts. CEO Marcotulli explains that a consumer will want an annual update on as expressed by epigenetics, with some who will want the testing done more frequently still.
Along with this life-changing test, Elysium offers other products that are designed to improve overall health on a deep-down level. Elysium is the exclusive source for Basis, a supplement that supports cellular health and improves the way you age, as stated on Elysium's website in 2015. The supplement is taken daily and contains 2 main ingredients: pterostilbene, a derivative of blueberries, and nicotinamide riboside, and important type of vitamin B that is found in milk. The price of a one-month supply of Basis is $50, or $480 for a year’s supply. The company's projected sales of Basis is 2,000,000 bottles by year's end. Like the Index Test, Basis is not required to have FDA approval as it is a supplement.
Basis was created for Elysium with the assistance of the leader of the Glenn Center for the Biology of Age Research at MIT, Leonard Guarente. After reading about the work it was doing in the field of aging research, Marcotulli saw an opportunity to bring or rent A on board in hopes of commercializing the results. Marcotulli was himself a recent Harvard Business School graduate and held a position as an investor for Sequoia Capital. Guarente joined Elysium as co-founder and chief scientist.
Basis was touted as a major component and the metabolic process based on Guarente’s research that theorized that the boost the coenzymes received should cause cells to function in the ways those of a younger person would. This is a point in theory although it is still presented as fact in many ways on Elysium’s website. For example, Basis is advertised as “the culmination of more than 25 years of aging research”. The impression that the details and results have been proven. The website also features a chart said to contain data obtained from a “double blind, randomized, placebo controlled clinical trial”. A quick glance at the actual scientific documentation of these results reveals that, with the exception of one person, all of the other authors are either Elysium founder or Elysium employee. This of course creates a profound conflict of interest. There are researchers and scientists who have been funded or received compensation in some form from the company, and even they are skeptical and cautious of these findings quote unquote.
The fact that testing has, to date, produced positive results in rodents has left some researchers questioning how beneficial it will prove to be in humans. They point out that there or a number of reasons why testing could produce positive results in rodents but not in humans. Results can be affected by several factors: dosage, concentration, and of course, genetic factors.
As a company focused squarely on its growth, Elysium is keeping a close eye on it’s spot among its competitors. When Amy Boileau, vice president of research and development at ChromaDex, a rival company, pending article that was published in a popular nutritional Journal earlier this year implying that basis could increase cholesterol, Elysium took a bit of a hit. Chromadex has filed suit against Elysium in three states: New York, California, and Delaware. Allegations range from theft of trade secrets to patent infringement to Product Safety and false advertising and more. Ironically, at one point, ChromaDex was Elysium's main supplier of nicotinamide riboside before parting ways in 2006. Trustees from Dartmouth College joined the ChromaDex complaint In Delaware. According to the information contained in current patents, Dartmouth was the first institution to discover a way to isolate nicotinamide riboside and make it available for use orally.
Whitney Christopher, spokesperson for Elysium , released a statement saying that the company was confident in the fact that there was no infringement on any valid patent claims as alleged by ChromaDex’s “baseless lawsuit”, and that the company had no doubt whatsoever that a court of law would reach the same conclusion. The legal proceedings have served to reveal Elysium’s take-no-prisoners approach to dealing with competitors. Evidence submitted in the cases by Marcotulli and company co-founder Dan Alminana outline discuss strategies strategies to effectively deal with what they see as a move on the part of Chromadex founder Frank Jaksch to communicate with them, while at the same time Quote unquote “trying to play it cool”. They discuss ways to taunt their rival with emails in response.
In the California lawsuit, ChromaDex employees Ryan Dellinger and mark Morris, director of scientific affairs and vice president of sales respectively, are shown to have both quit their jobs at ChromaDex at about the same time Elysium placed its last order with the company. Both men now work for Elysium. Following Morris’s resignation dated July 16th, 2016 and Dellinger’s approximately a month later, Marcotulli wrote Morris a message welcoming him to the Elysium family and stating, “We can't wait to get started”.
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When Morris discusses is the index tests, he likes to do so via the use of visual aids. Specifically, he produces a mirrored glass slide approximately the length of the average index finger. The slide is coated in Silicon. This is one of the custom slides, capable of reading over 100,000 genomic sites.
Even though each separate Array slide cost tens of thousands of dollars and contains such an excessive amount of data, this is just the tip of the iceberg with regard to the amount of information that Elysium now has the capability to capture. And epigenetic process known as Methylation (among a number of other processes) controls 30,000,000 genetic sites – or about 1% of our genes since specific genetic patterns have been found to correspond to certain stages of life. By utilizing methods based on individualized statistics the index test can look at and breakdown a person's unique patterns and determined their biological age.
It is not presently known precisely how these determinations are made. It may well be that as your body reacts in different ways when various things occur during the aging process, this information is recorded and read at various intervals throughout your lifetime. Whatever the reason, the patterns are very strong and well-defined, and from them the predictors are determined.
Companies who are well known for ancestry DNA testing have been forced to admit that their results have quite often been erroneous. This is especially been a problem when dealing with histories of families or individuals of non-European lineage. The Index Test suffers from no such issues. Elysium is confident in the test’s accuracy and ability to successfully provide results for consumers of all backgrounds. The company plans to adapt the finer points of the test over time to include algorithmic layering in order to identify points specific to subpopulations.
Due to the unique way the test constructs each model of biological age, there is no actual way to place them within error parameters period of this, Morris says the specific total is insignificant in comparison to regularly taking the test throughout the years to determine the cumulative rate at which you are aging. Regular testing that will garner Elysium regular revenue.
To be fair, some research has shown that these interventions can have an effect on biological aging. Using one of these interventions that consist of a pair of medications used to treat diabetes plus a growth hormone, a study done on a group of 9 people by geneticists Steve Horvath of UCLA reversed the test subject’s biological clocks by an average of 2.5 years.
Following the test from beginning to end with one customer, the experience went as follows:
The customer, whom we will call Joe, first read all of the information and instructions contained in the enclosed booklet. Joe then retrieved the small tube in which he would provide his saliva sample period since there is a high concentration of blood cells in saliva, it is essentially the same as providing blood for the test period Joe followed the directions for submitting the saliva sample by doing so prior to eating lunch, several hours after hitting breakfast. After placing a sufficient amount of saliva and the tube via the attached plastic funnel, he tightly capped the tube, sealed it and provided a plastic bag, and mailed it back to Elysium.
When Joe received his test results a few weeks later, he was not surprised at the results as he has always been physically active and had eaten a fairly well-balanced diet. The only factor that seemed to indicate an advanced aging issue was the fact that Joe's sleep patterns could use some improvement. Again, this is not surprising as Joe is the father of a one-year-old child who awakens during the night. Joe is 38 years old chronologically, but the index test has determined that he is 36 years old biologically. The report that comes as part of the test results offers advice and tips on improving Joe's biological health such as through high-intensity interval training and intermittent fasting.
Marcotulli shares that, as a result of his own testing, he discovered that he has a genetic variation of early-onset Alzheimer's disease. Interestingly enough, this bit of information was not revealed by his company's own index test, but rather by a test from another company. He says that since making this discovery he hopes that as Alzheimer's Research advances, progress will be made and that he will be watching closely to see where the research goes in the future.
People have fantasies of immortality, and products like the Index Test can feed those fantasies, giving the company's customers hope that one day that breakthrough will happen. There are a great many who are ready and willing to happily pay the price parentheses over and over again parentheses to have this health technology for themselves.
As for Elysium, the company expresses its happiness with the path it has chosen to take. The researchers, scientists, and developers see themselves as innovators of all things life-extending, helping to create perfect health by weeding out the habits and other factors that negatively affect our bodies one or two at a time.
Of course, when all is said and done, no matter how much we've exercised, how well we've eaten, how stress-free we've managed to be, we can do no more than extend our lives by a handful of years or so. That is not to say that science won't one day come up with the modern version of the proverbial fountain of youth. With the innovations in advancements being made consistently by companies like Elysium Health, that day could prove to be not too far off.
It bears considering, would we want to live forever? For some, it is an unthinkable subject, one that would mean pure misery for untold eons with no way to truly be at peace. For many, the answer is a resounding YES!. For those people, the index test may well be a smart investment and a good first step. It will be up to each individual to weigh the pros and cons and then decide for themselves if this kind of advancement is truly something they want. The old saying, be careful what you wish for or you just might get it is sage advice indeed. Living longer lives, knowing that not everyone will make such a decision and that we will end up saying goodbye too many, many of our loved ones as we plod on through life year after year after year period is an extended lifetime truly worth it if it will be devoid of many of the people who made life worth living in the first place?